News / Asia

Obama in Burma, Says Trip Not Endorsement of Government

US President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference in Bangkok, Thailand, November 18, 2012.US President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference in Bangkok, Thailand, November 18, 2012.
x
US President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference in Bangkok, Thailand, November 18, 2012.
US President Barack Obama speaks during a media conference in Bangkok, Thailand, November 18, 2012.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Burma, becoming the first American sitting president to visit the Southeast Asian country.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet with both Burmese President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation's leading democracy activist, who has been free only since 2010 after 15 years of detention or house arrest.

President Obama has said his trip to Burma does not represent an endorsement of the government, but is rather an acknowledgement of the political reform process under way in the country.

The president said there has been a stated commitment to further political reform in Burma, which he says deserves encouragement. 

"But I do not think anybody is under any illusion that Burma has arrived, that they are where they need to be," said the president. "On the other hand if we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is we would be waiting an awful long time."

He said the goal of his visit is to highlight the progress that has been made, and also to address the steps Burma needs to take in the future.

The trip underscores Mr. Obama's increased focus on Asia as he tries to fulfill his pledge to strengthen the U.S. economy during his second four-year term in office.  The Obama administration has said American foreign policy and engagement will "pivot" toward Asia in the future.

The Burmese government has recently begun making democratic reforms, but some human-rights groups have cautioned that it is not yet a fully free country.  

The U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch told VOA the president should have waited to travel to Burma until the country makes more progress in restoring basic freedoms.  

Mr. Obama also is attending a meeting of regional leaders from ASEAN in Cambodia, another destination where he is expected to raise concerns about long-standing human-rights problems.  The president is expected to urge Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to hold free and fair elections and end land seizures.

Mr. Obama spoke in Bangkok during a news conference with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Sunday.  Thailand was the first stop on a three-nation Asian visit in his first overseas trip since winning re-election nearly two weeks ago.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid